Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cultural Achievement Award

The American Council for Polish Culture awarded me their Cultural Achievement Award at their national convention recently, and I want to thank again the ACPC for bestowing this honor and Polish American Arts Association President Eliza Wojtaszek and the PAAA Board of Directors for supporting my nomination.

The award is sitting on my desk right now, and here's what it says: “In recognition of his poetry which has given the Polish Community in America a strong and clear literary voice.”

That sentiment means a lot to me because I feel that the voice that's being honored by the ACPC isn't just my voice. It's in part my father's voice. He could never stop talking about his love for Poland and what happened to him in Germany in the slave labor camps, and much of what I say in my poems comes from his strong and clear voice.

My voice is also my mother's voice. She seldom spoke about those years before the war and during the war, but I hear her silence and grief throughout my poems.

What I want to do in my poems is to give my parents and their experiences a voice. They had very little education. My father never went to school and could barely write his name. My mother had two years of formal education. I felt that I had to tell the stories they would have written if they could. For the last thirty years, I have been writing poems about their lives, and I sometimes think that I am not only writing about their lives, but also about the lives of all those forgotten, voiceless refugees, DPs, and survivors that the last century produced.

So, dear American Council for Polish Culture, thank you again.


In the above photo, Bernadette Wiermanski has just presented me with the award.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Your mother and father would be very, very proud of you.

sarah said...

Congratulations, John!

It's a very special thing to be able to give voice to the voices running in you - as you say, of your parents' and of so many others...

Urkat said...

John, I am sure that at times you must have seemed like a man obsessed with keeping alive the memory of what the Poles, and specifically your parents, went through during that time, but in this case, your commitment is both highly appropriate and highly commendable, and I also want to thank the ACPC for recognizing this very meritorious commission you have taken on. You have been true to your past. Best, Matt Flumerfelt

Jehanne Dubrow said...

John, Congratulations! It's a wonderful achievement.